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The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning [Kindle Edition]

Jonathan Sacks
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Writing with his usual grace and fluency, Jonathan Sacks moves beyond the tired arguments of militant atheists such as Dawkins and Hitchens, to explore how religion has always played a valuable part in human culture and far from being dismissed as redundant, must be allowed to temper and develop scientific understanding in order for us to be fully human. Ranging around the world to draw comparisons from different cultures, and delving deep into the history of language and of western civilisation, Jonathan Sacks shows how the predominance of science-oriented thinking is embedded deeply even in our religious understanding, and calls on us to recognise the centrality of relationship to true religion, and thus to see how this core value of relationship is essential if we are to avoid the natural tendency for science to rule our lives rather than fulfilling its promise to set us free.

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The most persuasive argument for religious belief I have read. (Andrew Marr, BBC Radio 4 Start the Week)

An intelligent, optimistic credo that allows for the happy coexistence of science and religion (The Times)

One of the most engaging thinkers of our time (The Times)

Britain's most authentically prophetic voice (The Daily Telegraph)

Jonathan Sacks's voice carries unique moral authority far beyond the Jewish community (The Tablet)

Book Description

Jonathan Sacks sets out a clear and forceful argument for the complementary nature of science and religion, drawing on an eclectic range of historical and philosophical arguments to prove the necessity of both if we are to understand the human condition.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 576 KB
  • Print Length: 381 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0340995254
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (7 July 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0057MLPOG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #33,207 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

A global religious leader, philosopher, author and moral voice for our time, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is currently the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at New York University and the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University. He has also been appointed as Professor of Law, Ethics and the Bible at King's College London. Previously, Rabbi Sacks served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth between September 1991 and September 2013, only the sixth incumbent since the role was formalized in 1845.

Described by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales as "a light unto this nation" and by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as "an intellectual giant", Rabbi Sacks is a frequent contributor to radio, television and the press both in Britain and around the world. A visiting professor at several universities in Britain, the United States and Israel, Rabbi Sacks holds 16 honorary degrees, including a Doctor of Divinity conferred to mark his first ten years in office as Chief Rabbi, by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey.

In recognition of his work, Rabbi Sacks has won several international awards, including the Jerusalem Prize in 1995 for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life and The Ladislaus Laszt Ecumenical and Social Concern Award from Ben Gurion University in Israel in 2011. Rabbi Sacks has also recently been named as The Becket Fund's 2014 Canterbury Medallist for his role in the defence of religious liberty in the public square. He was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 2005 and made a Life Peer, taking his seat in the House of Lords in October 2009.
The author of 25 books, Rabbi Sacks has published commentaries to the daily Jewish prayer book (siddur) and has completed commentaries to the Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Pesach festival prayer books (machzorim) to date. His most recent secular book - The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning - was published in July 2011. A number of his books have won literary awards, including the Grawemeyer Prize for Religion in 2004 for The Dignity of Difference, and a National Jewish Book Award in 2000 for A Letter in the Scroll. Covenant & Conversation: Genesis was also awarded a National Jewish Book Award in 2009, and the Koren Sacks Pesach Machzor won the Dorot Foundation National Jewish Book Award for Modern Jewish Thought and Experience for 2013. His Covenant & Conversation commentaries on the weekly Torah portion are read by thousands of people in Jewish communities around the world.

Born in 1948 in London, Rabbi Sacks attended Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, receiving honors in philosophy. He continued his studies at New College, Oxford, and King's College London, where he earned his doctorate in 1981. The same year he was ordained at Jews' College and at Yeshiva Etz Chaim, both in London. He served as the rabbi for Golders Green synagogue and Marble Arch synagogue in London. Before taking the post of chief rabbi, he also was Principal of Jews' College, the world's oldest rabbinical seminary. In 1970, Rabbi Sacks married his wife, Elaine, and they have three children, Joshua, Dina and Gila and several grandchildren.


Tradition in an Untraditional Age (1990)

Persistence of Faith (1991)

Arguments for the Sake of Heaven (1991)

Crisis and Covenant (1992)

One People? (1993)

Will We Have Jewish Grandchildren? (1994)

Community of Faith (1995)

Faith in the Future (1998)

The Politics of Hope (1997)

Morals and Markets (1999)

Celebrating Life (2000)

Radical Then, Radical Now (2001)

The Dignity of Difference (2002)

The Chief Rabbi's Haggadah (2003)

From Optimism to Hope (2004)

To Heal a Fractured World (2005)

The Authorised Daily Prayer Book: new translation and commentary (2006)

The Home We Build Together (2007)

Future Tense (2009)

Covenant and Conversation; Exodus (2010)

The Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor (2011)

The Great Partnership: God Science and the Search for Meaning (2011; 2012)

The Koren Sacks Yom Kippur Mahzor (2012)

The Koren Sacks Pesach Mahzor (2013)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the read 14 Dec. 2011
Well worth the read for anyone who takes religion and science seriously; doesn't matter whether you're affiliated with Judaism.

Rabbi Sacks's central thesis is that no system contains meaning inherently; it is imposed from without. In this context, he takes it to mean that the physical universe (as governed by laws of nature, which he apparently takes for granted as autonomous) is in itself meaningless; it is only outside agents of sentience (such as religion) which ascribe meaning to it. All attempts to derive meaning from scientific inquiry are thereby futile, and tend to end up in destruction.

The author sees the rationalist effort to "square up" reason with God's apparent position and action opposite us and the universe, as misguided, a development not authentic to Abrahamic monotheism, but rather imported from the culture of ancient Greece. He loosely associates these worldviews with right- and left-brain thinking respectively, and argues that shedding this insistence on linear logic (such as is manifest in the discussion of theodicy) will resolve theo-philosophical tensions.

The author sees the current-day picture of aggressive atheists and stubborn fundamentalists angrily opposing each other as related to messianic politics, and cites the French, Russian and Nazi revolutions as examples of the failure of messianic thinking in treating worldly problems.

This was the best exposition of separate-realm thinking (science and religio-spiritual) that I have read, and through it I was finally able to understand that model. What bothered me most about Rabbi Sacks's approach is his focus on pragmatism as a justification or role-definition for religion.
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant reset for the science/religion debate 30 Jun. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It takes a great mind to reset the at times wearisome debate between science and religion. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks magnum opus achieves this in a book that points primarily to the future of the human race whilst incidentally shedding light on the nature of science and religion and how they can get more into partnership. His prime thesis builds from the widely recognised division of the brain into left and right, analytic and synthetic. This illuminates the separate processes of science, which takes things apart to see how they work, and religion, which puts things together to see what they mean. That insight is harnessed to the conviction that, just as a healthy brain requires the balance of analysis and synthesis, so a right-minded world requires the coming together of science and religion.

Quoting Einstein, `Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind', Sacks tackles both irrationally based religion and the overstepping arrogance of some scientists, appealing for a new alliance of believers and sceptics for the good of humanity. For the sake of our children and their children it is imperative we build the stable families and communities essential to political, economic and environmental sustainability. Religious people have no monopoly on morality, contrary to the views of a minority of religious zealots. Rather, through the humility essential to their vision, people of faith should be ready partners with people of goodwill of all faiths or none in building a healthier world.

The Great Partnership is a deep book, passionate, detailed and yet returning from different routes to the simple and compelling thesis of its title.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful attempt to bring two sides together 30 Sept. 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have always been impressed by Jonathan Sack's attempts at moderating the extreme views expressed by both Science and Religion. He, quite rightly in my opinion, concerns himself about their vitriolic attacks that can be so dangerous. He would like to see a world where both sides are far more conciliatory which is a view I would subscribe to, so I found this book a welcome 'middle ground' read. Rabbi Sack's message is that both sides have a part to play in understanding our world and neither need to be threatened by the other. I'm not sure if this book would convince any of the hardliners on either side, but if you consider yourself a moderate in the Science verse Religion arena then I highly recommend this book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I've just finished the book and wanted to take a look at the responses it's received on amazon. Quite frankly, I'm rather disappointed.

The criticisms of the lower grade reviews for this novel are taken wildly out of context. I was particularly shocked at reading those from someone supposedly from the University of Cambridge whose review was startingly simplistic and manages to misrepresent Sacks's words with real panache, while simultaneously giving the rather meaningless conclusion: "Like all propaganda, readers' reactions to this book will vary widely depending on the extent to which it chimes with their pre-existing states of mind."

Not only could this phrase essentially apply to anything (rendering it pointless), but it is in itself 'propaganda' to view someone's take and expression of beliefs on the universe and personal journey, who provides a beautifully wide variety of sources and opinions on discussions, as intentionally misleading. It is also a falsehood. The tone of the book is not that of a preacher, it is one of a discussion, one that is led by someone who comes across as well-informed, open-minded and appears very well educated. Sacks's voice is one of tolerance, not seclusion. Of encouraging discussion and debate, rather than wishing to silence. That is the antithesis of propaganda.

Within the book, Sacks gives his opinion to why not only science and philosophy can synthesise with religion, but discusses why he views that both are essential components of the human condition. It is a discussion that is articulated brilliantly and it is consistently engaging for the reader. I would thoroughly recommend it, and advise against being misled by people who are actively seeking to demonise what any open-minded person would regard as a brilliantly written work. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read
Published 1 month ago by Moshe Moses
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
v good
Published 2 months ago by michael thorne
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb reading for all atheists, religious and science people.
Jonathan Sacks has written a masterpiece! His erudition seems to know no bounds. Clearly a scholarly book but eminently readable giving the reader an unprejudiced exposition of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dr. Kenneth Lancer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Published 3 months ago by Robert Gordon Ferguson
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 3 months ago by DMB
5.0 out of 5 stars very interesting, and showing how open minds in religion ...
very interesting, and showing how open minds in religion and science could increase our knowledge in how things work and the power of Science and religion working along side each... Read more
Published 4 months ago by David Neal
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic look at one of the worlds oldest questions, beautifully...
The more of Rabbi Sacks writings I read the more I learn and the more I love his style, content and delivery. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Philip Blair
5.0 out of 5 stars Rigorous and engaging.
Some real intellectual rigour brought to bear on faith/science issues. A very meaty book but well worth digesting. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Richard Adams
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of "The Great Partnership"
A carefully thought out and clearly presented view of the partnership between science and faith. I recommend it to anyone who thinks about these things.
Published 10 months ago by J. Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Brilliant ! A must read for anyone reflecting on the path of...
The only fitting comparison I can think of is that of a C.S.Lewis of our time. Jonathan Sacks is definitely one of the greatest thinkers and advocates for faith of this century. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Marketa Crowe Atanasova
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